On Jan. 31, 2008, this modified Scaled Composites Long-EZ completed the
first manned flight of an aircraft powered by a pulsed detonation engine (PDE).
The flight was the result of five years of innovation and cooperative effort
between the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Innovative Scientific
Solutions Inc. (ISSI). The project used the popular homebuilt
Long-EZ designed by Burt Rutan as a platform.
Engines normally burn fuel and air at subsonic speeds to provide propulsion.
Pulsed detonation engines detonate the fuel-air mixture into repeated,
controlled explosions. The resulting supersonic shockwaves
create thrust. In this PDE engine, the thrust is expelled
through four tubes out the back of the aircraft. Remarkably, the
PDE engine in this aircraft was made in part from off-the-shelf automotive
Pulsed detonation engines are still in their infancy, but this technology
may become common as it matures. PDE engines are much less complicated and
promise to be less expensive to operate than jet engines. Moreover, they
offer a fuel savings of between 5-20 percent over traditional turbojet
This aircraft was delivered to the National Museum of the United States Air
Force in 2008.
Click on the
thumbnails below to view larger images.
Click on the
following link to see this Long-EZ in flight.
Watch Long EZ in Flight (00-00-11)
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